Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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Gardening and Hydroponics: Learning to Grow Your Own Food

hydroponics

Grow your own food without soil.

“The important thing is you’re learning to grow some of your own food sustainably.”

By Linn Smith

I get it…no one wants to get suited up in masks with sanitary wipes in their pockets, rubber gloves, i.e. donning your suit of armor of choice, to go into a grocery store these days to shop for food, only to bring it home, wipe it down, take a shower and wonder if you were exposed to this horrid Covid-19 virus that’s currently ransacking our planet. Where I live it is now against the law to enter a grocery store without a mask. How I appreciate the good old days when we could make a quick stop at the store on the way home from work and quickly run in to pick up something we needed for dinner!

Yard to Garden
Turn your yard into your garden.

Gardening

Today, there is a run on seeds for planting outdoor or hydroponic gardens at home. Folks are realizing that they may have room in their house or apartment for gardening or they conclude they may not need their entire English style lawns for recreation, instead converting them into gardens for readily available food in a month or so.

From yard to garden
You can grow your own food.

Whether you live in an apartment or have a yard, you can learn to grow your own vegetables and herbs. Many without a yard are getting acquainted with the indoor method called hydroponics, growing small plants without soil, where water provides the nourishment for plants. This type of gardening requires setting up your own indoor garden for smaller plants using seeds, nutrients, containers and a light source. The light source will vary according to the plant.

Kitchen gardening
Turn your kitchen into a garden.

Hydroponics

An excellent guide to starting your indoor garden can be found at www.https://www.thespruce.com/beginners-guide-to-hydroponics-1939215

Aquaponics
Fish and plant dependency.

Aquaponics

Being a teacher I have witnessed several examples in our school system that use aquaponics (a branch of hydroponics) and fish, which not only teaches kids about caring for fish and gardening, but the interdependency of nature, all while finding the benefits of bacteria created by the interdependency. Students learn to create a closed, self-sustaining system which also provides food for them. For more detail see: https://aquaponics.com/aquaponics-in-schools/aquaponics-information/build-a-mini-aquaponic-system/

Food scarcity
Empty shelves at grocery stores.

Food Scarcity

Whether you plant an outdoor garden or try your hand at indoor gardening, the important thing is you’re learning to grow some of your own food sustainably, as there may come a time when the grocery stores are not just sold out of toilet paper, which has been the recent circumstance, but also out of food.

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Droneseed: Fighting against Climate Change with Reforestation

dronesseed

drones and reforestation

“By using the newest technology of planting seeds by drones, Droneseed has increased the speed of reforestation.”

By Linn Smith

With climate change and the warming of our planet comes forest fires as evidenced by the recent fires in Australia. The wildfire season has gotten considerably longer and drought has fueled the fires. Rising temperatures evaporate more moisture from the ground and vegetation turns dry with lack of moisture. These events lead to a longer wildfire season. Acres and acres of forest and prairie act as tinder for any mistake by nature or man. Deforestation has many devastating results including erosion and furthering the effects of global warming by destroying a forest’s contribution to clean air, turning carbon dioxide into oxygen.

In the past reforestation depended on humans carrying seedlings, planting each nursery grown seedling by hand as they walked across the deforested areas. If reforestation does not take place in these areas, erosion washes away the top soil and unwanted invasive plants and ground cover may eventually take the place of native trees.

droneseed

reforestation

Droneseed

Droneseed is a relatively new company that is reseeding destroyed forests by dropping tree seeds by drones, mitigating the devastated areas. They are a Seattle-based group of people interested in using technology to help save our planet. They work with the Nature Conservatory and some of the largest lumber companies in the world. According to their website, http://www.droneseed.com, they are a team of “ nursery managers, foresters, ecologists, biologists, and engineers who love the data, theory, and the hands-on work necessary to grow forests.”

In an interview by Devin Coldeway (@Techcrunch), founder and CEO Grant Canary Canary stated, “I started looking into how it’s done today,” he told me. “It’s incredibly outdated. Even at the most sophisticated companies in the world, planters are superheroes that use bags and a shovel to plant trees. They’re being paid to move material over mountainous terrain and be a simple AI and determine where to plant trees where they will grow — microsites. We are now able to do both these functions with drones. This allows those same workers to address much larger areas faster without the caloric wear and tear.”

I have witnessed first hand the devastating changes from forest fires. With the beetle kill causing rapid flames to spread, the Hayman fire was Colorado’s largest, over 138,000 acres, rapidly spreading over the Colorado Rocky’s beautiful terrain. Riding past this area several years later revealed acres and acres of new ground cover with a few cabins that the forest service saved, standing alone amongst the baron, black terrain left by the fire.

forest mitigation

droneseed

Mitigation of Deforested Areas

Droneseed is on the forefront when it comes to mitigation of deforested areas. Using the newest technology of planting seeds by drones they have increased the speed of reforestation. According to Techcrunch.com, in the article, That Night a Forest Flew Droneseed, “Earlier this year, DroneSeed was awarded the first multi-craft, over-55-pounds unmanned aerial vehicle license ever issued by the FAA. Its custom UAV platforms, equipped with multispectral camera arrays, high-end lidar, six-gallon tanks of herbicide and proprietary seed dispersal mechanisms have been hired by several major forest management companies, with government entities eyeing the service as well.These drones scout a burned area, mapping it down to as high as centimeter accuracy, including objects and plant species, fumigate it efficiently and autonomously, identify where trees would grow best, then deploy painstakingly designed seed-nutrient packages to those locations. It’s cheaper than people, less wasteful and dangerous than helicopters and smart enough to scale to national forests currently at risk of permanent damage.”

drones

reforestation

Droneseed packages seeds to drop from their drones by studying the soil and matching the packages closely with the nutrients and soil PH of the area in need of reforestation. They dust the outside of the seed with capaicin, which creates the heat in hot peppers, to keep wildlife from eating the seed.

Droneseed expects to take its services worldwide, thus speeding the growth of deforested areas and pulling carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere and replacing it with oxygen. This process, in return, will slow down our planets warming climate, making our planet livable for future generations.


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Success of the Ocean Cleanup Project

“The latest announcement has plans for the collected ocean plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to prevent its return to the ocean.”

By Linn Smith

Boyan Slat is one of my environmental heroes! At the young age of 25, he is leaving his legacy in the world by sustainably creating a healthier planet. (Also see my previous article at https://planetearth5.com/2018/10/08/boyan-slat-and-the-ocean-clean-up-project/)

The Ocean Cleanup

The last several weeks Slat’s non-profit company, The Ocean Cleanup, has reached a milestone in cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) and cleaning up the rivers at the source of garbage dumping with the latest operation called The Interceptor, a floating operation that extracts garbage in rivers. As he stated, “We need to close the tap.” to the garbage entering the ocean.

A Message from Boyan Slat

Boyan’s message on December 12 was, “Mission one completed– The plans to make products from the plastic catch. Welcoming the first of the plastic on land is the moment we’ve been looking forward to. I believe we can use this trash to turn a problem into a solution by transforming this unique material into products. As most people will never go to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, through these products we aim to give everyone the opportunity to take part in the cleanup.” After many months of trial and error and years of planning by Slat and his crew to get to this stage of the cleanup, success has been achieved!

Products from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The latest announcement are plans for the collected ocean plastic to prevent its return to the ocean. Sustainable products, launching in September 2020, will be made from the ocean plastic and sold to the public. Profits will be returned to the company to fund the continuation of the ocean cleanup.

How to Help

Go to link and fill out your contribution information:
https://products.theoceancleanup.com/26534150221/checkouts/094f916cf683ef170d11caa5d627736b?locale=en

The site states, “You are about to take part in the largest cleanup in history!
With a $50 donation you will:

*Help us remove more plastic from the oceans.

*Follow the plastic journey with front row seats to original content and other perks.

*Get early access to the first products ever made of verified plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which, if we succeed, we aim to launch in September 2020”

This is one of the many worthy causes that need your participation to clean up our Planet Earth!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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Recycling: Creating Hope for a Greener Planet

Recycle

Recycle and Conserve

“European countries are recycling 35% to 40% [of their plastic waste]. The U.S. only recycles 10%.”

By Linn Smith

I am spending time in a suburb in the Southwestern part of the United States. After being a diligent recycler most of my adult life, I have come to realize that many households do not share my passion for doing their part to prevent further negative impact on our planet. Even though I’m conscientious about buying goods in bulk from local health food stores, I still accumulate some bottles, cans and plastics. It’s the world we live!

I have been in the Southwest for several weeks and have repeatedly asked people and businesses about a drop off place for glass and plastic. The answer is always the same….the surrounding suburbs no longer take drop off recyclables as rates have gone up and in some sections there has been complete halt on even curbside recycling for glass and plastic. Cans are less of a problem, as many are willing to turn them in for cash, but plastic and glass? My efforts have produced nothing.

Recycle

Recycling Shut Down!

Following is the message I found when trying to locate a place to drop off my recyclables:

**CLOSURE NOTICE**
All City of *****recyling Drop-off Centers Are Indefinitely Closed
Due to increasing recycling processing fees and decreasing commodity values, the City of **** has found it necessary to reevaluate its entire recycling program. While we value the importance and place high priority on conserving our natural resources, we must also take into account financial considerations to ensure we are able to maintain a sustainable program. The total operating cost for the City of ***** three recycling drop-off centers is approximately $250,000 per year. While we have been pleased to offer this service for many years and appreciate you visiting our centers, unfortunately the decision has been made to indefinitely close all three locations.”

Landfill

A newly formed mountain of waste.

The Landfill: A Mountain of Garbage!

I then sought out the local landfill. I couldn’t enter as the truck in the picture was on guard to keep out private citizens. But standing on the road running parallel to the landfill, I took in the site of a mountain newly produced by garbage from the city that won’t allow recycled dropoffs. As I stood in disgust of this newly formed mountain of garbage in our once beautiful desert Southwest, I wondered, “Where did we go wrong? Was it just a hundred years ago that people were growing their own food, canning, reusing their jars, sewing their own clothes, living what would now be called a sustainable life?”

Landfill

Guarding the landfill.

The site of all those recyclable materials sitting in a landfill in our beautiful desert for a hundred years and accumulating day by day, year by year is almost too much for me to comprehend. To me you either care about out planet, leaving future generations with at least the knowledge that you tried, or you don’t…..you further the “pig sty” concept of what use to be our beautiful earth. The choice is ours to not be lazy!

Where will our Recyclables Go?

The excuse for many cities is this….China quit taking our dirty waste which we had been shipping over to them since 1992 and that alone broke the recycling system in the U.S. Keefe Harrison, CEO of the Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit that seeks to boost the industry, stated “European countries are recycling 35% to 40% [of their plastic waste]. The U.S. only recycles 10%. How tragic is that? We’re fighting an uphill battle to make it cost competitive from day one. The U.S. has previously outsourced so much of its recycling to Asia that the domestic industry languished. And there’s the fact that plastic manufacturers keep making more and more of it, and consumer brands like Procter & Gamble, Nestlé and Walmart keep wrapping more consumer goods in it.”

According to an article in the Sierra magazine, China’s refusing to take our recyclables has given us the opportunity to develop a plan of our own if we care enough to go down that avenue. “The whole crisis narrative has been wrong,” says Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers. “China didn’t break recycling. It has given us the opportunity to begin investing in the infrastructure we need in order to do it better.”

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

There are many different types of plastic. Some can be recycled, some cannot. In the past companies have used the plastic most profitable without considering what happens to their product packaging.

Several petrochemical companies have joined big consumer brands in pledging to make most of their plastic recyclable, reusable or compostable within the next decade or two. Their group, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, has promised to spend $1.5 billion over five years to recycle their packaging products.

Every Bottle Back

Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper recently announced a plan, Every Bottle Back, to reduce their dependence on new plastic by collecting, recycling and remaking plastic bottles from plastic they have already produced. “Closed Loop Partners, the leading investment firm in sustainability, will manage upgrades to recycling infrastructure and fund upgrades to equipment at bottle recovery systems. The fund will also be used to help businesses that turn recycled bottles into plastic pellets for reuse in many products.”

The Ocean Clean Up

The Ocean Cleanup.

The Ocean Cleanup

Then there are the heroes of our planet.The Ocean Clean Up nonprofit organization, started by 25 year old Boyan Slat, is not only working on the clean up of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but has recently unveiled technology to clean up rivers that are streaming garbage to the ocean.
“The Interceptor is The Ocean Cleanup’s answer for river plastic waste. It is the first scalable solution to prevent plastic from entering the world’s oceans from rivers. It is 100% solar-powered, extracts plastic autonomously, and is capable of operating in the majority of the world’s most polluting rivers.”

The Interceptor

The Ocean Clean Up, Boyan Slat

But we cannot depend on a young man in his 20’s to clean up our planet, even though he has diligently done more than his part. We must all do our part also!

Sources:

*Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper team up for recycled plastics drive
Toby Hill,October 31, 2019
*NPR U.S. Recycling Industry Is Struggling To Figure Out A Future Without China August 20, 2019

Recycle

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U.N. Climate Action Awards: Eco Wave Power

Wave Power

Creating Electricity for the Ocean

“Eco Wave Power has successfully developed and commercialized wave energy.”

By Linn Smith

Eco Wave Power is a company founded in 2011 which is the only company in the world that turns ocean waves into clean energy, connecting wave floaters to the power grid. Since 2016 the Wave Farm has been providing Gibraltar, a tiny country bordering Spain, with electricity. Eco Wave Power is also a 2019 recipient of the United Nation’s Climate Action Award.

Clean Energy

Generating electricity from the ocean

Clean and Affordable Energy

According to the U.N. Climate Action organization,”The project generates clean and affordable electricity, using a simple design that allows the project’s uniquely shaped floaters to be attached to existing man-made structures (such as piers, breakwaters and jetties), and thereby simplifying the installation process, as well as maintenance and accessibility.”

Ocean Energy

Ocean waves create electricity in Gibraltar

How Wave Energy Works

The converter consists of three main functional parts: mechanical, hydraulic and electric systems. The mechanical system serves as a wave energy receiver on floaters and transmits the energy to hydraulic cylinders. The hydraulic system transforms the mechanical energy from the sea to hydraulic fluid pressure and forces a hydraulic motor rotation, which transfers the energy from rotation to the generator. The generator is part of a converter electrical system. It receives the energy from rotation and transforms it to electrical power.

Wave power

Generating clean energy

Key Facts according to U.N. Climate Action

*Wave energy has historically been uncommercialized due to the complexity of extracting energy from the ocean. This project has successfully developed and commercialized wave energy, resulting in a grid-connected array that has operated continuously since 2016.

*In 2018, the station set a world record for wave energy when it clocked over 15,000 grid-connection hours.

*Commercializing wave energy has enormous potential — the World Energy Council predicts that wave energy can produce twice the amount of electricity the world currently produces.

*More than half the world’s population lives within 100 km (62 miles) of a coastline, and in many locations, the power of the waves is available around the clock.

Being easy to build and cost efficient these floaters also have little negative impact on the environment. Gibraltar has been a test site and Eco Wave’s plan for further expansion are on the horizon!

Sources:
https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change/women-for-results/eco-wave-power

http://www.ecowavepower.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_power

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Unethical but not Illegal: Feeling Indifferent about Our Carbon Footprint

Sustainable living

It’s our responsibility to change.

“The most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy.”

Joshua Becker

By Linn Smith

What is unethical? According to vocabulary.com it means, “Going against social or professional expectations of what’s right. It’s a word that’s often used to describe bad behavior or immoral conduct.”

What is the definition of Illegal? Laws and consequences that regulate human behavior.

Legally Destroying our Planet

Currently there are very few regulations on carbon dioxide and toxins we pour into our atmosphere, landfills and oceans. Most regulations are voluntary. What makes it unethical? The practice of adding more greenhouse gases and toxic materials to our earth and our atmosphere is a destructive force that negatively impacts our planet…but it’s not illegal!

We have produced generations of people that have lost all human memory of survival by using their own resources to live, such as growing gardens, canning, freezing, sewing their own clothes, harvesting their own honey….having the ability to live independent of industry. It’s the Industrial Revolution of destruction… consumers dependent on mass production which is destroying our planet!

The earth continues to warm

Fight against global warming!

Unethical but not Illegal

It’s not against the law to:

•Manufacture, transport and toss millions of plastic materials which, not only leave a huge carbon footprint in manufacturing, but end up in our lakes, rivers, oceans, landfills and falling from the sky in raindrops. Unethical but not illegal!

•Purchase gas guzzling vehicles that have left huge carbon footprints even before being purchased.

•Spend thousands on the latest fashions. The fashion industry leaves a huge toxic trail before you see it on the racks of your favorite retail outlet. Unethical but not illegal.

•Buy the latest and greatest cell phone….huge carbon footprint!

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

The Most Environmentally Friendly Product

Here’s a suggestion. Why not buy used and donate the difference to The Ocean Cleanup (which is currently cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage patch), a nonprofit clean energy organization, homeless shelters, a children’s hospital or a horse rescue, just to name a few possibilities. There are many horse rescues around and they always need hay! Just google one and offer to buy a few bales once in awhile! (I volunteer at horse rescues so I know this firsthand.)

The most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy!” and I will insert “buy new!”

cop21

Extreme Weather

The Industrial Revolution cannot continue. Underdeveloped countries need to develop in an environmentally friendly direction and developed countries need to take a look at the meaning of economic growth if the meaning of economic growth is further destruction to our planet!

How much extreme weather can we endure and how many species will become extinct? Can we just turn our backs and say it’s too late or worse, nothing I can do will matter?

Tagore had it right! “The one who plants trees, knowing that they will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.”

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Removing Carbon Dioxide from our Atmosphere

Carbon Engineering

Cleaning CO2 from our atmosphere.

“CarbonEngineering:“Commercialization of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology that captures CO2 directly from the atmosphere at an affordable price.”

By Linn Smith

According to NASA, in a report from June 2019, CO2 in our atmosphere reached 412ppm (parts per million) which hasn’t been seen in human history. CO2 is the gas that we humans are rapidly releasing into our atmosphere, trapping heat similar to a greenhouse. It is a result of burning fossil fuels such as coal.

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

The Rise in Earth’s Temperature

Earth’s average temperature has risen 1.62 degrees F since late 1800’s, with most of the rise in temperature occurring in the past 35 years. The 5 warmest years have occurred since 2010! At this point in history the answer to survival of life on our planet is multifaceted. We must work to not only offset our personal CO2 emissions, but also seek ways of CO2 removal from our atmosphere before it’s too late
.

Carbon Offsets

A carbon offset is an action everyone can take. It means compensating for your emissions in one part of your life by working to cut CO2 emissions somewhere else or contributing to programs that are working to combat global warming.

Unless you’re driving an electric or hybrid, an average car can emit about 5 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. Can you plant enough trees in your yard to offset your car pollution? Probably not.

There are many online sites that will calculate your CO2 footprint with recommendations to offset emissions, such as planting trees, or you can go to the EPA website and use their carbon footprint caluculator to calculate the carbon footprint of you and your family.

Clean Energy

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

Planting Trees to Offset Your Carbon Footprint

According to http://www.urbanforestrynetwork.org, “On average, one acre of new forest can sequester about 2.5 tons of CO2 a year. Young trees absorb about 13 pounds per tree each year. Trees reach their most productive stage of carbon storage at about 10 years, at which point they are estimated to absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year.”

An MIT study states that the average CO2 emissions emitted per person per year in the U.S.. is 20 metric tons, compared to the world average of 4 tons.

Carbon Engineering

CO2 is turned into clean fuel.

Carbon Engineering

Jennifer Wilcox states in her TedTalk that we have the technology to clean up the atmosphere, but it has been too expensive until now. Companies are currently working to bring down this cost. One company, Carbon Engineering, www. carbonengineering.com, is focusing on “commercialization of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology that captures CO2 directly from the atmosphere at an affordable price.” They do this in a “closed loop where the only major inputs are water and energy and the output is a stream of pure, compressed CO2 that can be stored underground or converted into fuels using AIR To FUEL technology.”

“AIR to FUEL uses CO2 captured from the atmosphere to synthesize clean transportation fuels. It uses renewable electricity to generate hydrogen from water, and then combines it with CO2 captured from atmosphere to produce hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel, gasoline and Jet-A, all with little or no fossil carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Individual facilities can be built to capture one million tons of CO2 per year which is equivalent to 250,000 average cars per year.”

Combating Climate Change

Cleaning our atmosphere

Carbon Engineering

Combating global warming

We all have a responsibility to do our part with no more excuses! We can’t wait for someone else to do it. For survival on earth, we need to stabilize the ppm (parts per million) of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The outcome of doing nothing about our changing climate is mass extinction of species, including our own, caused by extreme weather and our changing climate.

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Coal: Still Visible but on the Decline!

Coal Plant

Coal waiting to be burned at the local utilities plant.

“Our time is up! We no longer have time to sit back and say it’s someone else’s concern!”

By Linn Smith

During my annual trek back to the Midwest where I call home, I had plenty of chances to observe that coal is still alive and well, although in my home state, wind turbines are popping up by the hundreds.

Coal sits at the local utilities plant in my hometown.

Yes, piles of coal are still scattered throughout the region and being hauled on trains, but the overall growth rate of coal use has diminished. According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, the use of coal in the energy sector of the U.S. is declining.

coal train

A frequently seen site along the tracks in the midwest.

Coal is on the Decline

The reason for coal’s decline is mostly economical. Here are several reasons for the decline:

1. Good or bad, the nation has turned towards greater use of natural gas. Even though fracking is the method of extracting natural gas, it burns cleaner than coal. Hopefully it’s just the middleman as we move towards clean energy!

2. Declining costs of renewables.

3. Aging of our coal plants which are leading to greater cost to the consumer.

4. Climate change and extreme weather have caused greater concern in public opinion, leading to a willingness to move toward renewables.

5. Corporations and oil companies have adjusted their economies towards public concern. They may still lack the concern for our planet…but money speaks, and if public opinion and price of renewables are telling them to move away from fossil fuels, then they are forced to listen!

Coal Consumption

Coal is on the decline, but is it fast enough?

Someone once said that people wouldn’t listen to the concern about climate change until it was in their own backyard and that seems to be what has happened! Extreme weather, a predicted effect of climate change, is happening around the world in the form of floods, water shortages, depletion of rivers, storms, heat and extreme cold. Our time is up! We no longer have time to sit back and say it’s someone else’s concern!

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Building Sustainable Cities

Sierra Club

Sierra Club for Clean Air

“Sustainable planning must come before greed!”

By Linn Smith

I live part of the year in a rapidly growing city. I have lived in this city for 20 years, 15 years full time. In the past 5 years there has been a mass migration to this city. Traffic has come to a halt at rush hour, which now starts as early as 2:30pm and extends until early evening, accidents can hold up traffic for hours and parking spaces…forget about it! Developers of the city transit system have been involved in lawsuits with city transit, halting development in some areas for years, costing the city millions of dollars.

The High Price of No Sustainable Plan

Housing prices have tripled…. $500,000 being the price of the average home. We are diminishing the habitat of wildlife in a former mecca for bears, wildcats, moose and elk. The plan for their intrusion on us is 3 strikes you’re out. If a bear is found in a populated area 3 times it is euthanized and this is happening more and more with city sprawl….we have intruded on their space and there are severe consequences to them….for intruding in “our” space!

Pollution and air quality are rapidly declining. We are now the 12th most polluted city in our country.

Profit Before Sustainability

Well thought out planning? Jobs, yes, sustainable planning, no! Money has spoken clearly, developers and contractors have become rich. The city’s motto seems to be, “Build for those who come at any cost to the environment.” I am both amazed and disgusted to see the growth without planning. Why do I live here? I migrated here from the agricultural areas of the U.S. for a teaching job, and now my family is here.

It may be too late for this city, but my hope is that other cities will plan before sprawling unconsciously, building on every green patch of grass available without thought of the cost to our planet and the future of our survival!

building sustainably

Building sustainable cities

According to data provided by the United Nations, 68% of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050….that is approximately 2.5 billion people migrating from rural to urban areas! (This also includes projected overall growth in human population). North America currently has 82% of the population living in urban areas. Understanding these numbers is going to be critical for planning sustainable cities. Sustainable planning must come before the dollar signs shining in the eyes of contractors and developers!

What is a sustainable community?

Green, sustainable communities implement multifaceted methods of environmentally sustainable practices, changing city government to support these practices so that present and future generations can have clean, healthy environments and a planet that will continue to support humans and flora and fauna. Steps towards a green community should be outlined with measurable goals to see the growth on a continuum of ongoing sustainable practices….i.e. conditions that will not harm the environment.

Sustainable cities

Campbell’s Triangle plan

Building Green Ideas

1. Parks and Green spaces are meant to be part of a city’s health for residents, not future places for buildings to be developed.
2. Bike lanes and bridges should be separate from streets and highways.
3. Build or refurbish all government buildings to reflect the sustainable city vision.
4. Buildings will be renovated instead of torn down.
5. Comprehensive recycling and composting programs.
6. Green leadership with leaders who already live sustainably.
7. Smart energy policies.
8. Efficient public transportation.

Again, sustainable development must come before of greed!

Sustainable Cities

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Patagonia: An Environmentally Friendly Company

By Linn Smith

“We all saw what was happening in the remote corners of the world: creeping pollution and deforestation.”

As I was listening to the radio this morning, I heard an interview with the founder of Patagonia sports gear and clothing. I realized that Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, is a phenomenal man! His methods of sustainability and helping Planet Earth have been consistent throughout Patagonia’s almost 50 year existence, with the company’s environmental practices ranging from discouraging people against buying new products when they can fix the old, to sending trucks around the U.S. to fix Patagonia products, thus saving them from being discarded.

As an owner of a Patagonia jacket for many years, I not only realize the hardiness of this product but I now know if the zipper breaks, Patagonia will fix it!

Yvon Chouinard developed an environmentally friendly company because, not only does he make a quality, long lasting product, he witnessed the environmental injustices when Patagonia was new and attempted to create a low carbon footprint as his company developed.

Fighting for our Environment

In an excerpt from Yvon Chouinard’s book, “Let My People Go Surfing,” he states, “We all saw what was happening in the remote corners of the world: creeping pollution and deforestation, the slow, then not so slow, disappearance of fish and wildlife. And we saw what was happening closer to home: thousand year-old Sequoias succumbing to L.A. smog, the thinning of life in tide pools and kelp beds, the rampant development of the land along the coast. What we began to read – about global warming, the cutting and burning of tropical forests, the rapid loss of groundwater and topsoil, acid rain, the ruin of rivers and creeks from silting-over dams – reinforced what we saw with our eyes and smelled with our noses during our travels. At the same time, we slowly became aware that uphill battles fought by small, dedicated groups of people to save patches of habitat could yield significant results.”

Environmental Practices of Patagonia

Following are some environmentally friendly practices of Patagonia (from http://www.patagonia.com):

* In 1986, they committed to donate 10% of profits each year to these groups. They later upped the ante to 1% of sales, or 10% of profits, whichever was greater. They have kept to that commitment every year since
* They participate in grassroots efforts to save our planet.
* They make donations to small groups that restore/save the environment.
* In 1988, they initiated their first national environmental campaign on behalf of an alternative master plan to deurbanize the Yosemite Valley. Each year since, they have undertaken a major education campaign on an environmental issue.
* They took an early position against globalization of trade when it meant compromising environmental and labor standards.
* They have argued for dam removal where silting and marginally useful dams compromise fish life.
* They have supported wildlands projects that seek to preserve ecosystems whole and create corridors for wildlife to roam.
* Every eighteen months they hold a “Tools for Activists” conference to teach marketing and publicity skills to some of the groups they work with.
* They have been using recycled-content paper for their catalogs since the mid-eighties.
* They worked with Malden Mills to develop recycled polyester for use in their fleece.
* Their distribution center in Reno, opened in 1996, has achieved a 60% reduction in energy use through solar-tracking skylights and radiant heating; they use recycled content for everything from rebar to carpet to the partitions between urinals. They retrofitted lighting systems in existing stores, and build-outs for new stores became increasingly environmentally friendly.
* They assessed the dyes they used and eliminated colors from the line that required the use of toxic metals and sulfides. Most importantly, since the early nineties, they have made environmental responsibility a key element of everyone’s job.
* They changed to organic cotton because, the “natural” fiber used in most of their sportswear proved to be by far the greatest environmental evildoer of the fibers studied. They learned that 25% of all toxic pesticides used in agriculture was (and is) used in the cultivation of cotton, that the resulting pollution of soil and water was (and is) horrific, and that evidence of damage to the health of fieldworkers is strong, though difficult to prove. Cotton was the biggest villain – and it didn’t have to be. Farmers had grown cotton organically, without pesticides, for thousands of years. Only after World War II did the chemicals originally developed as nerve gases become available for commercial use, to eliminate the need for weeding fields by hand.”
* They continue the search for more environmentally friendly fabrics. They are using more hemp, in some products in combination with recycled polyester.
* They will repair their products.
* Worn Wear is an online program that will sell your old Patagonia gear. They say, “Why extend the life of your gear? Because the best thing we can do for our planet is get more use out of stuff we already own, cutting down on consumption, repairing, sharing and recycling your gear.” During the 2017 fiscal year, they made 50,295 clothing repairs. They also have a trade-in program to swap old gear and Patagonia’s Worn Wear trailer makes stops across the U.S. to repair their products.

Patagonia products may be a bit more expensive but they hold their value in resale. So, for all of the environmentally friendly practices of this company, I want to give a “hats off” to Patagonia for caring about our environment!

Patagonia

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